Last month, the House Judiciary Committee questioned Facebook and Google on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism online. Now, it seems German WhatsApp may be becoming a cesspool for Nazi propaganda and antisemitic groups, according to reporting from BuzzFeed.
On the app, nine groups — with names like “The German Storm” and “Ku Klux Klan International” — have shared message glorifying the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler, BuzzFeed reported. Some have also attempted to incite violence through the app.
WhatsApp — who is owned by Facebook — has Community Guidelines prohibiting harassment. But even when combined with Germany’s own laws against Nazi imagery, the groups haven’t been taken down.
Hate speech on social media platforms has been a growing problem for years. WhatsApp was listed as the sixth most common location for online hate speech in 2018, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were the platforms who secured the top three spots.
Although Facebook has its own bans on hate speech, the company hasn’t been the best at applying them. Last month, Facebook received criticism when it allowed a number of Neo-Nazi groups to keep their pages because they did not violate Facebook’s community standards.
It seems like some of Facebook’s bad habits may have trickled down to the other apps that the company owns. However, a hoard of other social media companies are also unable to keep up with the violence, propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech on their platforms.
Internationally, more lawmakers are building out legislation to prevent social media from being weaponized. In response to the Christchurch shooting — which live streamed on Facebook — Australia introduced a bill proposing prison time for social media executives whose companies fail to remove violent content.
If companies don’t find more effective and efficient ways to police hate speech, there could be dangerous consequences. It is crucial for social media platforms to take more responsibility for their role in proliferating hate speech.